Without mincing words, a Catholic bishop has called on his flock to reject a signature campaign for Charter change through people’s initiative.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo of the Apostolic Vicariate of Taytay in northern Palawan province made the appeal amidst allegations of payouts in exchange for signatures.
“Tell people not to sign! This is not an initiative of the people but of some politicians,” Pabillo said in a statement released Thursday.
He is the first bishop to openly speak against the current attempts to amend the nation’s Constitution.
Its proponents in the House of Representatives claimed that the amendments would only focus on the economic provisions of the Constitution, which restricts the flow of foreign capital into the country.
Charter change can be done through Congress, a constitutional convention, or through a people’s initiative upon a petition of at least 12% of the total number of registered voters.
Each legislative district must also be represented by at least 3 percent of registered voters. There are currently over 67 million registered voters in the Philippines.
Amassing enough signatures would basically force the 24-member Senate to vote jointly with the 315-member Lower House.
“It will overpower the senate,” Pabillo said.
The prelate also cautioned against leveraging the urgent call for a barangay assembly to push for constitutional reform.
In the past, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines repeatedly emphasized that any moves for Charter change must be in the best interest of the people and the nation.”
The bishops also had also long preferred the use of a constitutional convention over other methods, such as Congress acting as constituent assembly.